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The EU VAT Assistant for WooCommerce is still “alive and kicking”!

On the 9 December 2018, the WordPress Team removed our popular EU VAT Assistant from the public repository on WordPress.org. In this article, we are going to explain why they took that decision.

Preliminary note

Before explaining the reason for the removal, we would like to clarify that the EU VAT Assistant is still working fine, it’s fully supported and it will be maintained for the foreseeable future. There isn’t any technical issue, we’re just dealing with a minor conflict with the regulations on WordPress.org.

Why the plugin was closed on WordPress.org

The WordPress Team closed the EU VAT Assistant on the 9th of December, 2018, because that plugin, like (almost) every other Aelia plugin, requires our mini-framework, called Aelia Foundation Classes (or AFC, for short). That mini-framework comes as an independent plugin, which has to be installed separately. We introduced such framework in our development cycle back in 2013, when we realised that the old approach of bundling multiple copies of the same files and libraries in each plugin was inefficient. Since WordPress didn’t include a dependency management system (and still doesn’t), we implemented our own, simple solution. That allowed us to get the result we were looking for:

  1. We were able to the files and libraries common to multiple plugins to a shared framework (the Aelia Foundation Classes).
  2. We were able to leverage the functions offered by WordPress to detect when such plugin is missing, and prompt the administrator to install it.

Thanks to the above, the EU VAT Assistant and our other plugins can detect if the AFC framework is not installed. When that is the case, they ask the administrators if they want to install it manually. To make thins even easier, our plugins also offers a convenient “one click” interface to do that installation. This is how the EU VAT Assistant always worked, ever since we released its first version, back in 2014. Apparently, now this presents an issue.

The issue

The rules for the WordPress repository indicate that a plugin can’t download another plugin from sources other than WordPress.org. Since the “one click install” downloads the framework from our site, that feature is no longer allowed. Due to that, the WordPress team deemed necessary to close the plugin, and informed us about that closure right after it was performed. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive an advance notice about this, or we would have informed our users about it.

As mentioned, the reason for the plugin closure is not technical. The EU VAT Assistant works perfectly fine as it is, and it’s not affected by bugs or technical issues. More simply, there’s a disagreement about our plugin’s architecture, as the WordPress team deemed such design to no longer conform with the repository guidelines. Due to this, they decided to remove the plugin, despite its popularity and the fact that it has been running smoothly for over 4 years.

Possible solutions

The only reported non-conformity in the EU VAT Assistant is the dependency management that the plugin uses. Our solution allows administrators to download the required AFC mini-framework from our site, which is external to WordPress.org. From a technical perspective, this could be solved easily in a few ways:

  1. The AFC framework could be hosted on WordPress.org.
  2. The framework could be bundled within the EU VAT Assistant, which would then take care of installing it as a separate plugin, without having to download it from an external source.
  3. The “once click install” feature could be removed from the EU VAT Assistant, thus removing the “download from an external site” altogether.

Unfortunately, the WordPress team didn’t accept any of the above:

  1. The first solution won’t be allowed by another regulation, which doesn’t allow to use WordPress.org to host framework plugins.
  2. The third solution would involve “bundling a plugin within a plugin”, which is also not allowed.
  3. The third solution won’t be allowed either. Requiring a manual installation of the framework would imply that the EU VAT Assistant “doesn’t work” straight out of the box (unless the framework is installed first), which is another of the requirements on WordPress.org repository to ensure a smooth user experience.

Feedback from the WordPress Team

The WordPress Team suggested that we change the the EU VAT Assistant so that it doesn’t require the AFC framework, or so that the files from the framework are part of the plugin itself. Unfortunately, that won’t be an option. The decision of having the framework as an external plugin was deliberate, to make our plugins modular and more robust. Such design, fairly common on other platforms, allows to keep modules lean, and greatly reduces the chance of conflicts caused by the presence of multiple copies of the same files. Our target was to move away from the obsolete “monolithic” architecture, and all the bloating that it involves, and have a single, shared framework. Other developers adopted such approach (popular themes like Genesis and Avada also use a framework plugin), and it works well.

Rewriting the EU VAT Assistant to go back to the old “bundle everything” design would be a significant step backward, and it would introduce a high risk of causing conflicts with our other plugins, which are based on current “shared framework” architecture. Regrettably, we can’t redesign all the plugins we developed just to comply with a restriction on WordPress.org, which affects a single plugin.

Current status (updated 10 December 2018)

We had an extensive conversation with the WordPress Team about the removal of the EU VAT Assistant from the repository, and how it could be restored. As of the the 10th of December, we haven’t reached an agreement. We proposed a few solutions that would not require a radical changes in the plugin’s architecture. They would also avoid a cascade effect with other plugins based on the same design. Unfortunately, the WP Team keeps insisting that the only solution they deem acceptable by them is to rewrite the plugin and bundle the framework in it. As explained above, that’s basically the only approach we can’t follow. It’s simply not feasible.

We are aware that this sudden change could cause alarm among the merchants who are using our EU VAT Assistant. We received several enquiries, from our customers, asking what the future of the our VAT plugin is going to be. All of them expressed their support to us, and were puzzled by such sudden decision about an established and useful solution. You can read the conversation on the plugin’s public support forum, available here: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/plugin-removed-from-wordpress-repository/.

As anticipated, the EU VAT Assistant is still fully functional and supported, still free and it will be maintained for the time being. We will keep checking with the WordPress Team if we can find a compromise that can allow to restore our plugin on the WordPress repository. In the meantime, the EU VAT Assistant will still be available, free of charge, directly from our website. We will also take care of serving updates for our solution directly, while the files hosted on WordPress.org are offline.

Any questions? Always happy to answer!

Should you have any questions about the EU VAT Assistant, please feel free to contact us. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading this long post, and apologies for the inconvenience caused by the sudden change, which was outside our control.

Regards,

The Aelia Team

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The XAdapter Table Rates Shipping now supports our Aelia Currency Switcher

Using XAdapter Table Rates Shipping plugin with Aelia Currency Switcher

The XAdapter Team has recently updates their Table Rates Shipping plugin, adding native support for our WooCommerce Currency Switcher. Thanks to this new integration, you will be able to have the shipping costs configured in the Table Rates plugin converted automatically at checkout.

Getting started

Adding the XAdapter Table Rates Shipping plugin to your multi-currency site is easy. You can get started quickly and easily, by following the steps below:

  1. Install and configure the Aelia Currency Switcher. Our installation guide can help you configuring the plugin: Aelia Currency Switcher – Getting Started.
  2. In WooCommerce > Currency Switcher > Geolocation page, enable the Geolocation option. This setting will automatically select the currency based on visitor’s location.
  3. Install the Table Rates Shipping plugin. If you already have that plugin installed, make sure that you are running version 3.0.5 or newer.
  4. Configure the Table Rates plugin, following the documentation provided by XAdapter.
  5. The last step is to verify that the Table Rates plugin works, by simulating the purchase process. Simply add an item to the cart and reach the checkout page. There, you will see the shipping rates, which will be in the active currency.

You’re ready! Your customers will now see the shipping costs you entered, converted to the appropriate currency, on the checkout page.

Should you have any questions about using the Table Rates Shipping with our Currency Switcher, please contact the XAdapter Support Team. They will be happy to assist you in configuring their shipping plugin on your site.

Thanks again for reading, and have a great day!

The Aelia Team

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The XAdapter UPS Shipping now supports our Aelia Currency Switcher

Using XAdapter UPS Shipping plugin with Aelia Currency Switcher

The XAdapter Team has recently updates their UPS Shipping plugin, adding native support for our WooCommerce Currency Switcher. Thanks to this new integration, now you can easily add UPS delivery services to your multi-currency site, with a few simple steps.

Getting started

Adding the XAdapter UPS Shipping plugin to your multi-currency site is easy. The following steps will get you ready in a few minutes:

  1. Install and configure the Aelia Currency Switcher. Our installation guide can help you configuring the plugin: Aelia Currency Switcher – Getting Started.
  2. In WooCommerce > Currency Switcher > Geolocation page, enable the Geolocation option. This setting will automatically select the currency based on visitor’s location.
  3. Install the UPS Shipping Plugin with Print Label. If you already have that plugin installed, make sure that you are running version 3.9.13 or newer.
  4. Configure the UPS plugin, following the documentation provided by XAdapter.
  5. Verify that the UPS plugin works, by simulating the purchase process. Add an item to the cart and reach the checkout page. There, you will see the UPS Shipping rates, which will be in the active currency.

Done! Your customers will be able to select one of the UPS delivery options at checkout and see the correct rates in the currency used at checkout.

Should you have any questions about using the UPS Shipping with our Currency Switcher, please contact the XAdapter Support Team. They will be happy to assist you in configuring their shipping plugin on your site.

Thanks again for reading, and have a great day!

The Aelia Team

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The ELEX DHL Shipping plugin now supports our Aelia Currency Switcher

DHL Shipping and Currency Switcher, now working together

Updated December 2019

This article was originally published in December 2017. The XAdapter DHL Shipping plugin is now called ELEX DHL Shipping, and it’s developed and maintained by ELEXtensions.

In the past weeks, we have been working with the team at ELEX to add support for our WooCommerce Currency Switcher to their DHL Shipping plugin. The target was to make their shipping plugin more flexible, and to make it possible to interact with the shipping calculation process, to ensure the correct calculation of prices in all currencies.

We are happy to inform you that the integration is now complete. Starting from version 3.4.3, the DHL Shipping plugin includes the filters and actions we added in a modified version to make multi-currency support possible. Thanks to this filter, it’s now possible to interact with the shipping plugin and ensure accurate shipping costs. Sounds great? Good! Keep reading to learn how to implement the solution on your site!

Getting started

Adding multi-currency support to the DHL shipping on your site is a matter of performing three simple steps:

  1. Update the ELEX DHL Shipping plugin. Make sure that you are running version 3.4.3 or later.
  2. Add a simple filter to your theme’s functions.php file, as described in ELEX’s knowledge base:  WooCommerce DHL Express/Paket Shipping Plugin – How to use the DHL shipping plugin with the Currency Switcher plugin. The filter is what allows the DHL plugin and our Currency Switcher to work together, to ensure the accuracy of the shipping calculations.
  3. Alter the filter you just added, replacing the currency in it with the code of your shop’s base currency. For example, if your base currency is EUR, simply replace the “ZAR” from the example with “EUR”.

You’re now ready to go! The custom filter you just added will tell the DHL Shipping plugin to fetch the shipping costs in your shop’s base currency, and our Currency Switcher will take care of converting them to the correct active currency on the cart page and at checkout.

Should you have any questions about using the DHL Shipping with our Currency Switcher, please contact the ELEX Support Team. They will be happy to assist you in configuring their shipping plugin on your site.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

The Aelia Team

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We are a proud sponsor of WordCamp Dublin 2017!

Short and sweet: we just received the confirmation that our sponsorship for WordCamp Dublin 2017 has been approved. If you would like to meet us in person, our founder will be there on the 14th and 15th October, and he will be happy to answer any questions you might have. He won’t be a speaker this time, but don’t worry: he’s still a chatterbox, and you will have plenty of time to talk about (almost) anything. Here you can find a super-short summary of the important information.

Where

The event will be held in DCU Business School, Dublin. The DCU Business School is a fantastic venue, and the institute is in the top 5% of business schools worldwide.

When

The WordCamp event will be held on October 14th and 15th 2017. So far, 250 WordPress enthusiasts confirmed their presence, it’s going to be an amazing event.

Less than a month to go, tickets are running out. Get yours, and come and meet us and hundreds of other awesome folks at WordCamp Dublin 2017!

The Aelia Team